The Federal Court System

How does it work?

The 2 types of Courts

  • The District Court is the beginning level of the court system, they complete 94% of all Federal cases and they have Original Jurisdiction which means they have authority to hear a case for the first time.
  • Then there's the U.S Court of Appeals, which is the highest level in the Federal Court System, this court has Appellate Jurisdiction which means they have authority to hear a case from a lower court. There are 12 Appeals Courts, each of the 12 cover a specific area called a circuit. When these judges make a ruling they have 3 decisions. They can uphold the decision of the lower court, they can overturn the decision of the lower court, or they can remand it and send the case back to the lower court to be tried again.
  • There is also the Supreme Court, they have authority over both jurisdictions. Justices (judges) in the Supreme Court serve life terms, which means their term never expires.
  • The Magistrate Judge exercises jurisdiction over matters assigned to them by District Court judges. Not just judges work in these courts though. Their is the U.S Attorneys, who represent the government in all cases. Also the U.S Marshall, who makes arrests and collects fines, takes anyone convicted to prison, and keeps order in the court.
  • After Justices of the Supreme Court make rulings they give back an opinion, which tells the petitioner why either the majority of the justices voted for or against him or her, or explains why some judges disagree with the majority opinion. This opinion creates a precedence, which is when lower courts will use these opinions to make future rulings on cases.